Practical: Talk to ...
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Practical: Talk to Another

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Mark Wilkinson
Active Member
Joined: 8 months ago
Posts: 9
Topic starter  


In the online workshop, “Section 3: Research and Homework,” the first practical exercise is to speak with someone about a subject you are interested in researching.  The purpose of this forum topic is to match course students with volunteers who can provide guidance on a variety of subjects.  The course sets no limits set on the person to whom you talk: course instructor, a fellow student, or any member of the forum.  All are welcome to post.  All (student or not) are welcome to seek guidance from others using this thread.

Use this thread to post your interests (things you want to learn) and your knowledge (things you know and would be willing to share).  Do not chit chat in this thread!  It will become too unwieldy if everyone does.  Rather, reply directly to the author's post via a Message (Forum -> My Profile -> Messages) using their username (i.e. @markwilx).  If you'd like to have a public discussion on a topic, take it elsewhere (the "kitchen sink," perhaps).

Be considerate.  If you reach out to a volunteer for guidance, limit how much of their time you take.

Your post should have the following format (all fields are optional):


Bullet list of field(s) in which you would be willing to guide a fellow writer or illustrator.  Rate your expertise for each subject on the following scale:

  1. Neophyte
  2. Enthusiast
  3. Certified or Hobbyist
  4. Professional or Amateur
  5. Subject Matter Expert or Professor


Bullet list of field(s) in which you are seeking guidance from a fellow artist or illustrator.  Include specifics about the knowledge you are seeking.


Anything else pertinent to the practical exercise.

P - V39Q2
P - V39Q1
R - V34Q2
HM - V25Q2
HM - V25Q1

Mark Wilkinson
Active Member
Joined: 8 months ago
Posts: 9
Topic starter  

Greetings fellow aspiring writers.  Please reach out to me via @markwilx if I can help you with any of my knowledge or if you can help me with any of my interests.


  • Spacecraft systems (unmanned) - 5
  • Data communications systems - 5
  • Software systems - 5
  • Orbital mechanics - 4
  • Firearms - 3
  • Astrophysics (esp. stellar lifecycle) - 3
  • Auto mechanics - 2
  • Aviation - 2


  • Psychology - I’ve written a system that describes the traits of a person to describe my characters (from a tabletop RPG I authored).  It's lousy.  If you have a good way of cataloging the characteristics of your fictional characters, I’d appreciate your insights.
  • Genetic engineering - I’m very interested in learning more about CRISPR gene editing.  Neal Stephenson’s book Seveneves has some interesting ideas on this, and I’d like to learn more about the technology, so that I can create my own speculations on the future.
  • Hydroponics - I’d like a basic understanding of the inputs and outputs of hydroponic systems and what has been accomplished in normal and microgravity environments.  A story I am considering writing includes CELSS (closed ecological life-support system), and I expect hydroponics will be an important part of that.


I’ve worked in the aerospace industry as an engineer for more than 20 years on many satellites and one planetary lander.  I have no experience but some familiarity with manned spaceflight.  I would be glad to give an overview of the above topics, and would be glad to point you to books that will deepen your understanding.

I’m a certified firearms instructor and can provide an overview of how several different types of firearms operate (automatic, semi-automatic, pump, break, lever, pistols, revolvers, etc.) and how terminal ballistics are calculated (time-of-flight, bullet drop, energy, etc.).  I can’t help you with speculative weapons (laser guns) or with gunshot wounds.

My skill in auto mechanics is limited to older Jeeps (CJ, TJ, XJ).  If your story involves a vehicle breakdown as a plot point, I have a LOT of experience with that!

As far as aviation, I used to fly domestic search & rescue with the USAF Auxiliary (Civil Air Patrol).  Relevant to light aircraft, I can teach you about flight principles, aircraft systems, and navigation.  I can also tell you want happens (in the USA) when a plane goes down and search & rescue gets fired up.

P - V39Q2
P - V39Q1
R - V34Q2
HM - V25Q2
HM - V25Q1

Disgruntled Peony
Mother of Dragons
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 1282


  • Drawing/Digital Artwork - 2.5
  • Parenting/Small Children - 3
  • Psychology - 3
  • Retail/Customer Service - 4
  • TTRPGs - 3.5
  • Writing - 4


  • I've been working on branching into sci-fi lately, and I've got a setting I've been expanding on that involves a partially-successful Martian colony. With that in mind, I'm interested in pretty much anything relating to:
    • Biotechnology
    • Nanotechnology
    • Terraforming
  • I also have a general interest in prosthetics--everything from how they're made to personal experiences of people who use them.


I love drawing and digital artwork, and can help with basic techniques. I do feel it's important to note that I haven't considered myself professional enough to enter Illustrators of the Future yet--I had to choose whether to prioritize art or writing when the twins were born, so I shifted toward writing because it's easier for me to manage at present. Once the twins start school and I have more in the way of free time, I may have a better chance of balancing my interests. Might start entering IotF at that point.

I'm raising twin dragons, presently three and a half years old. I'm learning as I go, but I've already learned a fair bit. Can't claim expert level, but my kids have turned out okay so far (and having twins means I have a pretty solid sense of how similar and different two kids in the same age group can be). I essentially volunteered the parenting thing as an option because I have some basic knowledge of child psychology, so I can help with people who are working to write child characters and/or parents dealing with small children--please do not hit me up for actual parenting advice unless we know each other, though. laughing  

I have an Associate of Arts in Psychology and do semi-regular research on the subject. Essentially, I have a fair bit of knowledge on the subject, but I'm not at a professional level--this is the kind of field where you need, at the very least, a Master's Degree to be considered a pro. Definitely an enthusiastic hobbyist with a basic level of certification, though. 

I have over a decade of experience with various retail-related jobs, and have even worked as an assistant manager and a store manager for different companies. Can't say I want to return to this line of work, but I have a fairly decent idea of how stores operate and what it's like to work for one, from the cashier level to the local management level.

I've been playing and/or GMing various TTRPGs for the last 15 years, and have done some writing for a game book at this point. The book I worked on hasn't come out yet, and I haven't sought future work in the field just yet because it took a lot of time and energy that I don't presently have in abundance, but I'd be willing to do it again. Eventually. In theory. When I have the time. 

I'm arguably a professional writer at this point, though I definitely still have a lot to learn. Much stronger on the short story front than the novel front--still working on figuring out how to hack my brain to get it to finish longer projects, but I've been making progress on that front. typing  


If I think of other useful things to add to the list at a future date, I'll edit my post!

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales
4th and Starlight: e-book | paperback

Darren Lipman
New Member
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 3


  • Mathematics 4
  • High school education 4
  • LGBTQ+ issues 4
  • Mindfulness 3
  • Political science 3
  • Judaism and Kabbalah 3



  • Fantasy-related topics (e.g. sword fighting, horse riding, etc.) that can enrich my ability to write realistic and compelling stories set in a wide-range of fantasy realms, especially epic fantasy
  • The business of writing - I feel I know a lot about writing already (I had a creative writing minor in college and I've written over 1.2 million words, that I've counted) but I don't know very much about the present business of writing, such as how to pair stories with markets, how to find markets in the first place, writing queries, finding an agent, and so on
  • Health and fitness, especially lower-back anatomy and how muscles work - I have chronic lower-back problems and understanding my body better to maintain mobility and live a healthy life is important



  • BS in Political Science, NC State University 2015
  • MS in Mathematics, NC State University 2016
  • M.Ed in Educational Policy and Leadership, Marquette University 2018

I've taught hight school mathematics since 2016. I previously worked as a college mathematics tutor and tutoring supervisor, as well as a copy editor for the NC State University newspaper, the Technician.

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Anna X
Eminent Member
Joined: 4 months ago
Posts: 38

Hello everyone! I'm always willing to work with others and help anyone if I can. Please reach out to me @annax if I can be of any help!


  • Christianity 4
  • Paganism/Occultic/New Age/Wiccan/Gnostic/Supernatural  4
  • Drawing/Digital Art (Photoshop, Procreate) 3
  • 3d Art (Blender/Daz3d/Nomad) 3
  • Sculpting/Clay 3
  • Writing 3
  • Reading 3
  • Retail/Customer Service 3
  • Science/Biology 3
  • Computer Science/Programming 3
  • Gaming/Mmos/Mmorpg 3
  • Cartoons/Anime 3



  • artificial intelligence - I've been playing around with this topic for a long time, but I'm interested in what makes a machine more alive. I've watched GPT-3 talk to each other, have interviews, etc. I'm currently trying to solve the issue of what makes a computer program more human and what human traits can I impart on it as the engineer to help it mimic human behavior. One day, we'll find that "spark" and that would be dangerous, but it would also be a most challenging thing.
  • bioengineering/biomedical - I love science. I don't think writing needs the technical details of specific things (like explaining how RNA can be mutated using a virus as a carrier with the genetically engineered strand as a delivery package), but I'm really interested in how we don't have cures for things like cancer and aids and why can't we find the solutions we need? Billions of dollars have gone into cancer research, and we still can't stop a bunch of out-of-control cells from multiplying. It doesn't make sense to me.
  • paleontology - I love dinosaurs. I'm curious as to why some are extinct, and some are still here.
  • microbiology - I'm interested in viruses, bacteria, diseases, and the cures or remedies for them. Also, ever thrown a water bear (aka tardigrade) into space? I hear they survive anything.
  • Spanish - I'm currently learning Spanish. I have no one to speak it with, but I can speak Hmong and English. I'm looking to learn Spanish, then move forward with other languages I've been really wanting to learn.


I've always been drawn to health science and biology, but I'm currently working on attaining my bachelor's in computer science, so I'm a student back in school. I know a lot about computers and internet researching, so I'm looking forward to being able to create, program, and engineer machines.

I've played games for much of my life, like 30 years or so. I've started with the Nintendo (remember Duck Hunt?), then went on to Sega Dreamcast, Playstation, XBox, and Wii. I've also been playing mmos and mmorpgs for about 15 years, recently ending an 8-year love affair with a super toxic player base korean mmo. 

I also watch a lot of cartoons and anime. I'm a huge Disney fan and probably know every song to a major motion picture by Disney. I read a lot of manga and comics. Cartoons, anime, manga, and comics really give a lot of insight into world building, characters, plots, story lines, actions, conflicts, and I think it's a good visual way to absorb this information.

I used to teach Creative Writing to adults, and I have taught Reading and Writing to adults. What I loved the most was seeing the smiles on their faces and seeing them accomplish their goals.

I studied religion on my own for a decade. I'm very well versed in recognizing things imitating other things. 

I've worked in retail and customer service for about 15 years. I've worked in restaurants, grocery stores, and companies. I've been a waitress, a cashier, a lead, and an assistant manager.

I love art. I'm seriously just a hobbyist in that subject. I've always been very good at art, but I've been more traditional with pen and paper. I've been learning digital art and have worked with photoshop for several years. I've been working with procreate for the last two years. I dabble in Blender, Daz3d, and Nomad on the iPad Pro. I have a 3d printer that I haven't yet used (Elegoo Saturn S). I've also done sculptures using clay (plasticine, air-dry, modeling). I've attempted at making dolls which was quite fun.

I love writing. I used to write on pen and paper, so my biggest issue is translating it all on to the computer. My goal is to start translating them on to the computer. I write a lot of fantasy and dark fantasy. I write horror. I write romance and paranormal romance. I actually do love science fiction. I also write children's fantasy and science fiction. I also write crime, thrillers, and mystery, but most have a dark fantasy, paranormal, or horror element. I've self-published 4 books in a 10-book vampire series. The remaining 6 books are written, I just need to put it into the computer, edit, and all that nice stuff. I have several finished books that need to be typed. I have over 50 half-written books that I need to finish writing. My goal is to one day, get all my writings out and just share it with the world. I write more novels than short stories, but I'm working on writing more short stories.

I love reading. I prefer plot and character arcs over gratuitous sex and violence. I think sex isn't needed unless it adds to the story or has a purpose. I also think excessive violence and gore for shock value doesn't make a story great. Writers that have really influenced me on creating amazing stories are Bram Stoker's Dracula, Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, Guillermo Del Toro's The Strain, Brian Lumley's Necroscope series, Jean M. Auel's The Clan of the Cave Bear series, and Robin Hobb's Dragon Keeper and the Rain Wilds Chronicles. None of these stories have sex or extreme violence, but much rather, they focus on the characters and plot which makes them amazing stories.

~ I honestly believe that good stories write themselves. You can always start writing a story, but the characters tell their own tales and if you're lucky enough, you get to merely be in the audience watching everything unfold. ~ 8/1/2022
WotF - 2022, V39 Q4: submitted

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